LOS ANGELES FIRING MAY SPARK ADL BREAKAWAY
Anti-Defamation League leaders in Los Angeles are discussing splitting off from the national organization, following the sudden firing of the popular head of the ADL office in that city.
David Lehrer, a 27-year veteran who had headed the L.A. office since 1986, was dismissed on December 21, during a meeting in New York with ADL national director Abraham Foxman. A statement said Lehrer, 53, was ousted as part of “steps to strengthen our leadership and development efforts.” But insiders said there had long been tension between Lehrer and Foxman, particularly over the L.A. office’s degree of independence.
Carmen Warschaw, an honorary national vice chair of the ADL and an active member of the L.A. chapter, told The Report that while she did not think there would be a split in the ADL, “there’s no question that the ADL’s national presence here has been diminished.” But a member of the chapter’s executive committee, who asked not to be named, said he no longer felt “comfortable soliciting money from friends for the ADL, because I don’t know how we can do our mission if somebody from New York can take our money and dispose of it and our staff without consulting us. If the ADL can’t fulfill its mission, I’ll be looking for other agencies that can.” West Coast sources say the L.A. chapter brings in $ 6 million of the national ADL’s $ 40 million annual budget.
Local leaders said there has been tension between the L.A. office and headquarters for years. Two years ago, the ADL’s national office announced it was selling the building housing the L.A. office in a cost-cutting move, without consulting local leaders. Californians managed to block the sale.
“Local lay leaders realized they were not in charge of the office they were breaking their necks working for,” said Warschaw, whose brother donated $ 1 million toward the original purchase of the building.
Foxman has so far refused to comment on Lehrer’s firing. Lehrer said he is considering a variety of options, including legal ones.